Category Archives: Helping

15May/18

I did NOT see that coming! Mother’s Day 2018

My youngest daughter provided me with a brand new, unforgettable Mother’s Day experience this year!

The day before Mother’s Day was wonderful.  I volunteered at the MS Walk in the morning with my Girl Scout troop.  When I got home, my older daughter had finished the laundry and washed the dishes!  Then I got to volunteer with my younger daughter, helping the local Food Bank collect food from the National Postal Workers Food Collection. 

When we got home, the dog had already been fed.  We were off to celebrate a former babysitter’s graduation from college.  This meant that we not only got to celebrate but also that I didn’t need to make dinner (happy dance)!  To wrap up this great day, my family went to the Wind Symphony.  This is always wonderful, but this time they featured Rhapsody in Blue, one of my favorite classical pieces. After the show, we enjoyed visiting with a few band members (my daughters’ music teachers) and some close friends. But the day was not over yet.  I was treated to my daughters playing, or attempting to play, duets with new music they just bought that day. The evening lasted much later than planned, but I couldn’t interrupt the joyful sound of music and laughter coming from the other room!

And then Mother’s Day happened. 

M in ambulance

In last week’s post, I wrote how often times Mother’s Day dreams and expectations can be derailed. This is especially true if we do not make our wishes known or have unrealistic expectations.  I knew that this year I would be spending most of my day at the soccer field.  I decided not to plan or expect anything other than some time with my family.  My husband had a game at 11 and we did not have enough time to get home for lunch before my daughter’s team warmed up.  And while it wasn’t a fancy Mother’s Day meal, Subway was still lunch I didn’t have to prepare (another happy dance).

The first game went as well as can be expected in what my husband refers to as the “Old Man’s League.”  There were no major injuries or fights, so we consider that a win!  And my husband’s team did actually score one goal more than the other team, but it is really not about winning for most of the players in this league. It’s about not getting hurt, having fun/exercising, and then hanging out with adult beverages after the game.  Yes, in that order.

The second game, my daughter’s game started and the teams seemed pretty well matched and determined to win.  Towards the end of the game, the other team was up by 1.  Then we heard some thunder and I glanced up to see the lightning in the far distance. When I looked back, Megan was down.  She started to get up and then rolled over back onto the ground.  It looked like she was holding her arm.  Not the arm she broke (humerus bone) playing soccer in the Fall 2016 season, the other one. 

She didn’t get up and the coach was called.  She appeared to be talking but was not moving.  I know they were telling her to be still, but she wasn’t moving her legs at all.  No words can accurately describe the feeling of watching that from a distance.  My stomach varied from butterflies (maybe it was nausea?) to what felt like crushed glass rolling around.  My heart was in my throat, my breath being held and my brain was screaming for Megan to at least move a little so I would know she was going to be OK.  Someone from the other team left the sidelines and went to help and then my husband, who had been standing down at that end of the field went on. I  waited for them to call me over

After what seemed like an eternity, I didn’t wait for the call and I went out.  They thought at that moment was that she had possibly pinched a nerve in her neck.  She could move all of her extremities, but her entire left side hurt. I had a flashback to the season where she was kicked in her left leg and ended up with nerve damage.  She was eventually diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was much better than what was flashing through my mind moments earlier on the sideline.

Mother’s Day 2018 was not at all what I expected – but I did get to spend a LOT of time with my younger daughter.  We experienced a lot of “Firsts” together.  We had our first ambulance ride.  Megan had her first IV, visit to the ER, her first CAT Scan, her first CT arterial Scan and her first MRI… she also got to spend 9 hours in a C Collar to prevent her from moving her neck while the trauma team tried to figure out what was going on.  Megan couldn’t eat or drink until the results came back.  Besides the uncomfortable C Collar and a sense of restlessness from lying around and only being able to see the ceiling for hours, not being able to eat and drink was probably the hardest part for her.  She hadn’t eaten since noon, just played most of a tough soccer game and was very tired, hungry and thirsty.

Hospital Humor

Hospital Humor

After checking into the pediatric wing of the hospital at 1:30 am and waiting for the trauma doctor to bring results, the collar was removed and Megan was allowed to eat and drink.  We celebrated with chicken strips and fries at 2:30 am.

The good news, ALL SCANS were within normal range.  They aren’t really sure what happened or is happening, but there was nothing that the trauma doctors and neurosurgeons could see that scared them.  Megan was to remain under close watch for 24 hours.  It seems as if my soccer player has a common football injury known as a “stinger” (brachial plexus injury).  It will be a bit of work (PT) and a while before she is back to her active self again, but she should be fine.

As I sit in the hospital waiting for the final doctor visit and our release papers, I will gladly admit, I did not see that Mother’s Day adventure coming!  I am so grateful for Megan’s health and lack of severe injury.  I am grateful to the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who provided excellent care during our 23+ hours with them.  I am grateful to the concerned parents and players on both sides of the field. I am also grateful to the EMTs and Firefighters who took care of Megan on the field and kept a sense of humor (taking the picture in the ambulance) so I could remain composed and so Megan wouldn’t be as scared.

I was held together by our extended family and friends who continued to text and support us during the wee hours of the morning.  It helps that my sister’s family lives in a time zone that is 9 hours ahead!  And even though I am not proud to say this, I was also grateful that my daughter could text and connect with her friends through social media.  It really helped distract her, although my arm did get tired holding the phone in a position over her face so she could see it.  Megan was not able to see the TV with her neck in the C Collar so her friends provided entertainment and support.

So parents, please hug your babies of all ages close tonight.  Everything can change in a second.  I know I talk about the Self-fulfilling prophecy a lot.  Look for the good in your child(ren) and you will find it.  You will also find more of the good and less of the other stuff if you are actively looking for the good.  It’s in there!

Going Home!!!

Going Home!!!

TUESDAY FOLLOW UP

Since I didn’t get a chance to post this on Monday, here is a brief “Follow Up.”

We haven’t heard anything about Megan’s lower body – and now that I can stop and think things through a little more clearly, I’m realizing they didn’t do any lower body scans.  We’ll follow up at her doctor’s appointment on Friday.  However…

Amazingly as of today, the Tuesday after Mother’s Day, Megan is back at school! She’s using crutches and has access to an elevator.  She is still very weak on her entire left side, but her arm is much stronger. She is able to use crutches to and from classes as long as she rests during class.  I’m on call for when she needs to leave early.  She will be missing the Biking Unit in an elective class that she is re-taking because she missed it last year when she broke her humerus… but she IS up and moving!  We are so thankful!!!

09Apr/18
egg heads

Spring has Sprung

One of my favorite things during the Spring season is watching my husband and daughter start our garden.  They start the seeds in small peat pots in our kitchen and nurture them until the sprouts are big enough to move outside to the back porch.  We all take turns bringing the baby plants out into the sunshine for a few hours and then back in to stay warm overnight.  Once they are big enough, Tim and the girls plant the little plants in our garden.

The impact of gardening has often been studied and written about before.  I’m sure you’ve heard that the more active your children are in growing and/or preparing their food, the more likely they will be to eat it, or at least taste it.  While this has not exactly been the case in my family, the girls certainly enjoy the process of growing and picking tomatoes for dad or zucchini for the neighbors.

There are also health benefits to being outdoors and to doing meaningful activities with your hands.  In fact, there have been studies that show the more outdoor experiences a child has, the more positive his attitude tends to be.  Many adults I have talked to, use gardening to relax and reduce stress which can help grow a positive attitude, or at least squash a negative one.

A garden does not need to be huge.  In fact, if you don’t have an area in a yard to use, you can grow a small container garden.  Even just experimenting and trying a few things with your children can be fun and help grow the connection between you and your child.  We have planted apple and orange seeds from our snacks and the excitement and joy of watching them sprout was awesome.  Parsley is an easy plant to grow in a small cup in your kitchen.  We have also taken empty egg shells and grown hair for our “Egg Heads” (thanks mom for that fun idea while I was growing up!).

To grow your own “Egg Heads,” next time you use eggs, carefully crack your eggshells so that you save at least 2/3 of the shell intact.  Wash them well and let them dry.  Draw a face near the top of the cracked shell.  You can even glue on some googly eyes.  Fill the shell about 2/3 full of dirt and then put some grass (or parsely) seeds in the dirt.  Water it as needed and watch the hair grow.  My girls enjoyed giving our Egg Heads an occasional haircut .

Whatever type of garden or kitchen experiment you try, allow your kids to explore, experiment and get dirty.  You can always hose them off or throw them in the bath tub!

I would love to hear what is growing in your garden!  Comment below or send me an email at DrRenee@HelpingParentsParent.com and I’ll respond personally!

Here’s a website I recently found: KidsGardening.org .  It is full of fun ideas and lots of information about gardening.

29Aug/16

6 Back to School Tips to Ease Anxiety

6 Back to School Tips to Ease Your Child’s Anxiety

It’s that time of year!  Most kids, parents and teachers are excited to jump into the new school year.  Yet for some kids, it can be terrifying, or at the least, be overwhelming.  It is NORMAL for kids (parents and teachers, too) to feel a mix of excitement and nervousness.  There are a lot of unknowns when starting a new school year.  What will my teacher be like?  What will I learn?  Who will I sit next to during class? During lunch? What if it’s too hard?  Too easy?

Leaving parents, the ‘not knowing’, and even the transition from a less structured time to a more structured time can all be possible causes of anxiety.  But have no fear (pun intended), YOU can help your child get through this!  Here are 5 tips to help you with a smooth transition to school this year.

1. Prepare.

Start getting into a routine a week or two before school starts. Practice morning and bedtime routines so your child gets develops a habit and can get the required amount of sleep. (see blog on Morning Routines or Bedtime Routines).  Most elementary school aged children need 9-11 hours and older children need 8-10 hours of sleep.  Practice walking to school or walking to the bus stop.  Time your morning routines and the walk to see how much time it takes.  Add 15 minutes to that time, once school actually starts, in case there’s a delay or someone gets side tracked.  You can always have a special activity (i.e., cuddle and read a book together) if you get done early.

2. Stay Calm.

One of the most important things is for you, the grown-up, to remain calm.  If you get all worked up or appear anxious, your child will pick up on your feelings.  That’s not to say that you can’t feel anxious or sad – my kids are going into middle and high school and I still get tear-y eyed after they walk into the school.  Notice I said “after” they walk into the school.  Do your best to keep a calm appearance when you are with your child.

3. Stay Positive.

For kids who are anxious or scared about school, focus on the positives of school.  That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about things that worry your child, but answer them in a calm and positive manner.  Mention things your child feels confident about (she is good at math, he has met the teacher and she has a nice smile).  Smile when you talk about school and offer things that you remember enjoying when you were in school, even if it was playing on the monkey bars at recess.

4. Ask Questions.

Think of a list of questions and pick one or two each day.  Ask your child as he heads off to school and then ask for the answers when he returns home. You could even make these ‘special missions.’  An example question/mission could be: “When you get home, I’d like to know who you sat next to in lunch today and one food that person had that you might want in your lunch in the future.”

Remember to ask the question again when your child gets home.

5. Something Special.

Do or have something special for your child.  You could designate a special snack that she only gets when she’s at school (not an ‘at home’ snack).  Maybe there is a special shirt you bought him to wear on the first day.  Pick out special notebooks for school together.  Decorate the notebooks if they are plain.  Don’t forget to take and/or use pictures! 

Before my daughters could read, I would put a new picture in a zip top bag taped to the inside of their lunch boxes every Monday.  I still put a picture in on the first day of school, but now I write little love notes every once in a while, throughout the year.  “Good luck on your test!”  “Smile!”  “You are Awesome!”

6. Do Something for YOU.

If it’s been a challenging few weeks, or if it is difficult for you to see your child go off to school, make sure YOU have plans after you drop him/her off that first day.  Go out for coffee with another parent, walk the dog, schedule a playdate with your friend.  Do something to take your mind off your child.  Teachers are aware that the first day can be tough for some children. They have all kinds of tricks up their sleeves to help their students feel welcome, comfortable, and included.  Most kids who cling, or leave their parents tear-y eyed at the door (meaning the kids, not the parents), are fine moments after the door shuts and their little minds are engaged in doing something fun.

YOU CAN DO THIS!!

16May/16

Chores Shmores!

Do you feel like you are doing all of the work around your house?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little help so that you could play, too?

Young children love to help!  If your children are young, you have a huge advantage here, please don’t let this slip away.  If your children are older, it’s a bit more work, but in the end, you will have well rounded, knowledgeable children who can take care of themselves when they are off on their own- not to mention a little more time for yourself before they leave!

It’s important to find age-appropriate chores and to realize that you will need to teach, and re-teach these chores on occasion.  It’s also important that you pick chores you can live with being done at a ‘child-level.’  If you need to have the mirrors wiped without streaks, or it will bother you all day long, this is not a chore you should give to your child. If you don’t care that there is a smudge here or there, give it away and put your feet up for a few moments!

Obviously young children will need more help and supervision, and older children will need to be taught and supervised in the beginning, too.  Just remember, you are training your child for the long run.  If you can stick with it, the benefits are worth it.

Here are some examples of a few age appropriate chores and a few tips:

Young Children (3-5 years old)

  • Pick Up Toys:  You can make a game of this or have your child race a timer.

  • Set/Clear the Table:  If you put the items on the table and have taught your child (or continue to teach) where to put the plates, napkins, forks and spoons, your child can start this task as early as Smiling Breakfast3-4 years old.  Encouraging your child to clear his/her plate and silverware can start as early as they are able to carry something from the table to the counter.

  • Vacuum/Mop:  Young children love to help.  In the beginning, a toy vacuum is a great way to have children help and enjoy doing the chore.

  • Laundry: Children love to make pairs and find matches.  Have them help by sorting socks.

5-8 Year Olds

  • All of the above chores with a little more responsibility.

  • Pick up Toys: We have a saying at our house: “Whatever you take out, you must put back.”

  • Set/Clear Table:  Your child can set the table with items you have put on the table and can also start helping to bring food to/from the table.  Clearing can include not only his/her place setting, but also parent place settings, too.

  • Vacuum/Mop/Dust Mop: Children can start using ‘real’ vacuums and mops at this age.

8+ Years Old

  • All of the above chores and…

  • Pick Up Toys and Crafts:  At this age we added the saying: “If you can’t clean it up withing 15 minutes, it might be too much.”  My daughters prefer to spend more time playing than cleaning, so this saying seemed to resonate with them.

  • Load/Unload Dishwasher:  When my children first started unloading the dishwasher, they were too short to put some of the dishes and cups away in the high cupboards.  They started by putting the things on the counter and I would put them away. As they grew, they were able to stand on a stool to help them be tall enough to finish the job.  And, yes, for those of you who know me, I have to use the stool sometimes, too!

So, there you have it.  A list of a few age-appropriate chores you can try at your house.  My suggestion would be to pick one or two chores and experiment with those chores, not to try all of them this week.  Once you have established a routine, or a system that works with one or two chores, you can add another one.  Slowly, over a few months, you can continue to increase the responsibility.  Just don’t forget to figure in the “Fun Factor” to keep things from seeming too much like work.

 

 

 

                                                                               

 

Check out my upcoming Webinar:

How to Get Your Child To Cooperate and Complete Chores

If you sign up through this link:  http://supersweetdailydeals.com/ 

by May 25th, 2016, you will be able to attend this $27 Webinar for FREE!

There are a multiple dates/times available.

                                                                               

 

30Nov/15

Helping Others

While I try to be thankful all year, I find myself feeling especially grateful around this time of year. Yes, Thanksgiving was just here, but for me it’s the fact that, as the weather gets colder, I have a warm, sturdy house, plenty of clothing, and more than enough food to eat. I’m even grateful for the mess in my daughters’ rooms or the things around the house that I have to clean up because it means that we have things. True, too many things, but still plenty of things to be grateful for in my life.

My husband and I try to promote a sense of gratefulness and responsibility in our children by helping others who are less fortunate. Here are three ways you can involve your children in helping others.

  1. Pick a tag off of a Giving Tree (or Angel Tree) and have your child help shop for a present and talk about the child you are shopping for. Help your child understand that this child might not get any toys/clothing if you did not help out. Explain that this child is loved very much by his/her parent, but the parent most likely does not have enough money for fun things or things above and beyond the necessities.

  1. Adopt a family from a homeless shelter or check with your child’s school to see if there is a family you could help. Please note that there will likely be a need for confidentiality. Families in need do not typically want to be recognized or noticed. Even though your family might provide for the same adopted family all year, the shelter or school contact might not share anything other than age, gender and sizes. It is important that if you or your child figures out who this family is, that you don’t call it to their attention.

    When we pulled names off a gift tree one year, my daughter figured out that she knew two of the children. We discussed confidentiality, how lucky we were to be able to help and how nice it was that she had insight into what these children might need and want throughout the year. Of course, you, the parent, need to determine if this is something your child understands and can handle. Some children would find it hard to keep that knowledge secret, especially over an extended period of time.

  1. Donate. You can give your child a specific amount of money to donate and help him decide which organization he wants to donate to this year. Or, another thought is that you could match the amount he chooses to donate of his own money (from allowance, extra chores, gift money, etc.). This might not be a large amount of money, but even a handful of coins helps!

    Donating clothing or toys is a great excuse to get your child to clear our closets and storage space for any new clothes/toys that she might receive this year. If possible, bring your child with you to the drop off location and have them carry their items in– often the people receiving the items will make a big deal out of the donation if you (or your child) mention that your child cleaned out her closet to be able to help those less fortunate.

These three ideas are great for children of any age. Even if you have an itty bitty child, begin a new tradition and talk to your child every step of the way. Each year he will understand a little more and the act of helping others will become a ‘fact of life’ in his world, maybe even something he eagerly anticipates each year and will share with his children.

Happy Helping!